I’ve been working on this post for a while now, and I originally intended to publish it last week on #WorldMentalHealthDay, but every time I sat down to finish it I ended up accidentally watching 7 hours of Netflix instead. (I hate it when that happens.) The main reason I wanted to post this on WMHD is because, as I went through my Twitter timeline and read everybody’s posts about their experiences/journeys with mental health, it got me thinking about my own – and the ways I’ve tried to look after it in what has been a bit of a temperamental period.
This year – after a very rocky few months – I left my job and found myself unemployed, with absolutely no idea of what the hell had just happened and absolutely no idea of what the hell to do next. All of my confidence had gone out the window, and a lovely mix of frustration/anger had flown in to replace it. (Should’ve locked that bloody window).
I wanted to get a fresh start before moving on to my next chapter of life, so I decided to go travelling for a bit and booked a one way flight to Europe. (I might just go travelling to solve all my problems in future. Next week I’ll lose my keys and book a year long cruise to the other side of the world, or buy the wrong type of milk and emigrate to Norway.) As well as having a bloody good time, I came back home feeling pretty much back to my normal, sarcastic, self-deprecating, pre-shitstorm self. While a lot of factors helped me get to that point – including lots and lots of ranting to friends and family and imaginary flashbacks where I stood up for myself to the sound of Lily Allen’s ‘Fuck You’ – it was my three weeks of solo travelling that played a massive part in helping me to reclaim my mojo.
That’s the amazing (and sometimes unexpected) thing about solo travel. It doesn’t just provide you with the opportunity to see some pretty amazing places, it also makes you change, develop and grow as a person in ways you might not even realise until you’re back home. This is all starting to sound a bit deep and cliché now, which definitely isn’t my thing, so I’ll just crack on. Here’s how solo travel has the power to help you reclaim your mojo:
1) It puts you in charge
One of the most rewarding things about solo travel is that you’re completely in charge of everything. Whether you plan it all to a tee or go with the flow, it’s all down to you: Organising a route, getting yourself to the starting point, booking accommodation, transport and activities, using different languages and currencies, and making new friends along the way.
These are all things that can be quite daunting to do on your own – especially if it’s your first time – but when you’re on the road and doing it all yourself it’s something to be pretty damn proud of. Especially if you’re a 24 year old and once asked Google how to microwave a potato. After months of feeling incapable of doing anything right, it felt pretty good to remind myself that I can get across a whole continent without a single major disaster (and only getting lost a MINIMAL amount of times).
2) It presents you with exciting new possibilities
One of my favourite things about travel in general – whether you’re going solo or not – is the way it brings something new and exciting into your path every single day. Whether it’s visiting a new place, meeting different people, or trying some of the local cuisine, you’re getting a constant stream of unique experiences that introduce you to new parts of the world and open your eyes to how much exciting stuff there is to see out there. (The closest I got to doing any of that before was going to work a slightly different way if there was a train strike on, and the Northern Rail network is only exciting up to a point). The perfect way to break free from a mojo-sapping rut.
3) It introduces you to new connections from all over the world
Another very exciting part of solo travel is the huge variety of people from all over the world who you get to meet along the way. Some of my favourite moments from my backpacking trip were when I was sat with some of the people I’d met in each place, having a beer, as we shared our life/travel stories, and it was so motivating to hear everyone’s experiences and plans. Listening to other people talk so excitedly about all the places they were visiting and planned to see in future made me remember that, ultimately, this is what I want to be doing now – no matter how much my bank balance weeps at me and tells me to get a damn job.
So, there we go. Mojo officially back. Brace yourself, world, I’m coming at you with £2.78 in 2019. Let’s be having ya.
To read about what I got up to on my European backpacking adventure while reclaiming my mojo, take a look at my blog post series here.